Detection of soil contamination at Bungendore

Transport for NSW has identified lead contamination in the soil along the rail corridor at Bungendore.

We have found elevated levels of lead in soil in the areas next to and within the rail tracks and some areas of rail corridor where trains were previously required to slow down, stop or load and unload and in areas where materials were loaded and unloaded.

While the rail line at Bungendore is currently used to carry passengers between Sydney and Canberra, it was previously used to transport lead ore from the mine at Captains Flat to Bungendore in small, uncovered wagons. At Bungendore, the lead ore was transferred into larger wagons and then transported via rail to Port Kembla.

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OCT 2021

OCT 2021Sample testing

An occupational hygienist gathers samples from the air and dust for testing to determine if there are any potentially harmful materials present.

From Monday 18 October 2021, occupational hygienists will be onsite in Bungendore to carry out further testing along the rail corridor. The occupational hygienists will be wearing personal protective equipment to ensure their safety. It is important to note it is standard protocol for occupational hygienists to wear a high level of personal protective equipment to carry out testing at any site they visit. It is not an indication of the potential level of risk at Bungendore. Wearing personal protective equipment to carry out testing is part of the occupation health and safety requirements to minimise any personal risk to the workers.

We will be updating the community as soon as we have the results of this further testing.

Community information session

Due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19, a community information session was held online on Thursday 7 October 2021. View a video recording of this Bungendore Community Information session.

While we don’t have all the answers yet as we’re still learning about the elevated lead levels, we wanted to share all the information we have with you and let you know what will be happening next. The online information session was a great opportunity for the community to understand what we know and ask questions of Transport for NSW, NSW Health and the EPA.

View or download the presentation from the community information session.

What is happening

We’re continuing to investigate. This will include air monitoring and further soil testing in the rail corridor, the station and the informal car park at Majara Street and Kings Highway.

We have informed the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and are working with the relevant government agencies to ensure we fully understand and address any impacts on the community.

We have erected a temporary fence to prevent access to parts of the rail corridor while we undertake further investigations. This will impact parents’ ability to park at the unofficial car park on the corner of Majara Street and Kings Highway and prevent access to the Lake George Men’s Shed. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Frequently asked questions

  • We’ve identified elevated lead levels in the soil along the rail line in Bungendore where we have carried out sampling. The elevated levels vary at different locations along the rail corridor.
  • The soil samples showed lead levels varied at different locations in the rail corridor. We found elevated levels of lead in the areas immediately adjacent to or within the rail tracks, and some areas of rail corridor where trains were previously required to slow down, stop, or load and unload. The level of lead found in the soil samples generally decreases the further they were taken from the rail track and former loading and unloading areas.
  • Transport for NSW is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the community.

    We have notified the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and are working with the relevant government agencies to ensure we fully address any impacts on the community.

    We have installed a temporary fence around the known areas of concern to prevent people from accessing the site while we undertake further investigations. This will impact the informal carpark area on the corner of Majara Street and Kings Highway and Lake George Men’s Shed. We will work with the Lake George Men’s Shed to enable them to continue their valuable work in the community at a suitable and safe site. We apologise for any inconvenience.

    Further advice can be provided by contacting Transport for NSW on 1800 491 566 or via email at Bungendore.info@transport.nsw.gov.au.

  • Water collected in rainwater tanks varies in quality and is impacted by the management and maintenance of the associated roof catchments, which could collect dust and debris. Tank water quality can also be affected by lead-based paint used on roof surfaces and lead flashings, lead–based solder in tanks and plumbing pipes, water laying for extended periods in copper pipes, and other plumbing fixtures containing lead and copper.

    Water from your tank should not be used for any potable purpose including drinking, brushing your teeth, food preparation, irrigation of edible fruit or vegetables or for poultry or other animals. Water in your tank can still safely be used to irrigate non–edible gardens and lawns and hose down hard surfaces including pathways and driveways.

    The Bungendore Town Water Supply remains the most reliable source of good quality drinking water because it is treated and regularly monitored for compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

    Further advice on rainwater tank water quality and tank maintenance is available from NSW Health’s website. Alternatively, you can contact the Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 and ask to speak with an Environmental Health Officer.

  • We haven’t tested for lead in the air or dust yet. Occupational hygiene testing in the rail corridor, in and around the station and Men’s Shed and at the informal car park at Majara Street and Kings Highway will be reported in November 2021. Once we have these results we will share these with the community.

    All potential risks are being formally assessed now for consultation with stakeholders. Additional testing programs are in development.

    Any additional air or dust monitoring is subject to the risk assessment. We will inform the community of the findings of any additional testing and monitoring.

  • We tested for lead in the soil, taking samples from 119 sites along the rail line between Turallo Creek Bridge and the Ellendon Street level rail crossing and near the Bungendore train station. These samples were taken from different locations to help us understand the levels of lead across the rail corridor in more detail.
  • The results from the soil sampling along the rail corridor showed:

    • Lead levels in the soil varied from above to below acceptable levels for industrial uses across the testing area.

    Elevated levels of lead were found in:

    • areas next to and within the rail tracks
    • some areas of the rail corridor where trains were previously required to slow down, stop, or load and unload.
    • lead level concentrations decreased the further they were taken from the rail tracks.
  • We are continuing to investigate.

    A Preliminary Site Investigation report is currently being finalised and will be published on the project website at nswroads.work/Bungendore by late November 2021 TBC.

    An Interim Environmental Management Plan is also being finalised and will be publicly available on the project website in late November 2021 TBC. It will be updated regularly until final investigations have been completed, and identifies the actions required to protect human and environmental health. An example of one of the interim measures we have implemented so far is the erection of the fencing around the station.

    Further investigations are planned as well. We are mindful that full investigations, remediation planning and completion of remediation work will take some time, however we will keep the community informed on our progress. All potential risks are being formally assessed now for consultation with stakeholders and additional testing programs are in development. Occupational hygiene testing in the rail corridor, in and around the station and Men’s Shed and at the informal car park at Majara Street and Kings Highway is expected to be reported in November 2021, with preliminary soil testing to be reported by late November 2021.

    We will keep the community informed of the results from the testing and if further testing is required.

    We have notified the EPA and are working with the relevant government agencies to ensure we fully address any impacts on the community.

  • We have notified the EPA that we’ve found elevated lead levels along the rail corridor at Bungendore. They are assessing the information we’ve provided and will assess the results of the further investigation to determine whether the lead is significant enough to warrant regulation by the EPA.
  • We’ve undertaken testing along the rail corridor between Turallo Creek Bridge and the Ellendon Street level rail crossing, at the Bungendore train station, the woolshed (former rail yards), the southern fork, trucking yard lane and the signalman’s cottage. We took samples from 119 sites along the rail tracks, next to the rail tracks and on the edge of the rail corridor.
  • Transport for NSW has established that ore from the Captains Flat Mine was transported to Bungendore and re-loaded into larger wagons in the late 1800s and between 1937 and 1962. Following consultation with the Captains Flat Inter-agency Taskforce and a request by Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Transport started testing for lead in the rail corridor at Bungendore.
  • Our initial testing did not include testing the water. All potential risks are being formally assessed now for consultation with stakeholders and additional testing programs are in development.
  • Plants do not readily absorb lead, but the amount they do absorb depends on the species and the variety of plant, the chemical composition of the soil, the amount of lead in the soil and the soil temperature. Leafy vegetables and herbs tend to accumulate more lead compared to fruiting vegetables.

    Water from your rainwater tank should not be used for any potable purpose, including irrigation of edible fruit or vegetables, unless you know it is compliant with the Australian Drinking Water Guideline Values.

    Fruit and vegetables should be grown in raised garden beds, using clean imported soil and washed prior to cooking and consuming.

  • Transport for NSW is committed to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the community. We have notified the EPA and are working with the relevant government agencies to ensure we fully address any impacts on the community.

    We have erected a temporary fence to prevent access to parts of the rail corridor while we undertake further investigations. This will impact parents’ ability to park at the unofficial car park on the corner of Majara Street and Kings Highway and prevent access to the Lake George Men’s Shed. We apologise for any inconvenience.

  • Yes. All final reports will be published on the Transport for NSW website.
  • Yes. Depending on the outcome of the occupational hygiene testing we may undertake further testing. We will keep the community informed of the results and if further testing is required.
  • The likelihood that a person has been exposed is dependent on several factors including the level of lead in the immediate environment and activities that could increase exposure, the length of exposure and the person’s age and general health. If you are concerned about possible exposure to high levels of lead, please see your local GP to request a blood test.
  • In general, poultry foraging in soils containing elevated levels may swallow enough lead to cause their eggs to become potentially unsuitable for consumption. To prevent this from occurring:

Further information

For more information about lead exposure, please see advice from NSW Health.

For more information about managing lead in the environment see the EPA fact sheet.

If you couldn’t attend the community information session and have questions that are not covered in the FAQs, please contact the project team:

Phone: 1800 491 566
Email: bungendore.info@transport.nsw.gov.au

Documents

 

Contact us

Phone number: 1800 491 566

Email: bungendore.info@transport.nsw.gov.au

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